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Vorontsova, Maria, S.

Photo of Maria Vorontsova
Job title: 

Research Leader, Integrated Monography

Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology
Joined Kew: 


Foreign languages: 

Russian, Latin

Qualifications and appointments: 
  • PhD, Open University, sponsored by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 2008
  • MA, Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge, 2003
  • BA, Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge, 2000
  • Book Reviews Editor of the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 2011 onwards
  • Systematics Association Council 2010 onwards
  • Editor of Phytotaxa 2009 onwards
  • Fellow of the Linnean Society of London

I study grasses and everything about them, with a particular focus on tropical African diversity and poorly known lineages, their evolutionary history, and the history of tropical grasslands and savannas. I use herbarium based alpha taxonomy to enrich our understanding of ecosystems and their function. My main research direction is a full taxonomic treatment of Poaceae for the Flora of Madagascar, a long term project incorporating a range of ecological, phylogenetic, ethnobotanical, and horticultural work. I am also interested in the history and development of classifications and in botanical nomenclature and bibliography. I look after GrassBase and develop it to bring together global taxonomic knowledge across all Poaceae and to build it into a broad research utility. If it is about grasses, I would like to hear about it.

Selected publications: 

Besnard, G., Christin, P. A., Malé, P. J. G., Lhuillier, E., Lauzeral, C., Coissac, E., & Vorontsova, M. S. (2014). From museums to genomics: old herbarium specimens shed light on a C3 to C4 transition. Journal of Experimental Botany 65 (22): 6711-6721. doi: 10.1093/jxb/eru395 Available online

Vorontsova, M.S., S. E. Rakotoarisoa. 2014. Endemic non-bambusoid genera of grasses (Poaceae) in Madagascar: review of current knowledge. Malagasy Nature 8: 14-34. Available online

Besnard, G., Christin, P. A., Malé, P. J. G., Coissac, E., Ralimanana, H., & Vorontsova, M. S. (2013). Phylogenomics and taxonomy of Lecomtelleae (Poaceae), an isolated panicoid lineage from Madagascar. Annals of Botany 112: 1057–1066. Available online

Vorontsova, M.S., Ratovonirina, G. & Randriamboavonjy, T. (2013). Revision of Andropogon and Diectomis (Poaceae: Sacchareae) in Madagascar and the new Andropogon itremoensis from the Itremo Massif. Kew Bulletin 68: 1-15. Available online

Vorontsova, M. S., Stern, S., Bohs, L. & Knapp, S. (2013). African spiny Solanum (subgenus Leptostemonum, Solanaceae): a thorny phylogenetic tangle. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 173: 176-193. Available online